Smoky Black Beans with Spinach and Masa Dumplings

I’ve cooked almost every recipe in Mexico One Plate at a Time since I got it in high school, but this and the guacamole are two I make the most. For a long time I was completely intimidated by cooking dried beans, but this recipe helped me get over that. If you want to simplify your life a lot, you can even use a slow cooker for the beans a day or two before you plan to make this.

I had this recipe in mind when I threw these black beans with spinach, mushrooms, and pasilla chiles together while we were living in Korea. If I could have gotten my hands on some chipotles and masa, I would have made this instead, over and over. I don’t know what it is about the smoky flavor that is so addicting, but that combined with cute little masa dumplings and the spinach just have me hooked!

Recipe:
(adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless)

1 pound dried black beans
10 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 roma tomatoes
4 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, chopped
salt
1 cup dried masa mixed with 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp hot water
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped (stems removed)

Put the beans, water, onion, and garlic in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until the beans are tender. (If you don’t have a slow cooker, simmer them on the stove, uncovered, for about 2 hours.
Roast the tomatoes under a hot broiler for a few minutes on each side until the skin is blistered and black. Let cool, then remove the skins and transfer the tomatoes to a food processor or blender. Add the chipotles and puree until smooth.
Stir the tomato mixture into the beans and season with salt to taste. At this point you can refrigerate the beans for a day or two, or just keep cooking.
To make the dumplings, mix the masa, water, and baking powder to make a smooth dough. Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer. Roll small pieces of dough into marble-sized dumplings between your palms, then gently press your finger into the center to form a dimple.
Cook the dumplings in two batches, removing them with a slotted spoon once they rise to the surface. Cover with plastic wrap until you’re ready to add them to the beans.
Stir the spinach into the beans and stir occasionally until it is wilted. Add the dumplings, stir carefully so you don’t break them, and serve.

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11 Responses to “Smoky Black Beans with Spinach and Masa Dumplings”


  1. 1 Cara February 18, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Cate, this sounds fabulous. I’ve never cooked with masa and I think this has inspired me to give it a shot. The masa dumplings remind me of something right around the corner for me – matzah balls! One question – about how many servings do you get from the black beans and dumplings?

  2. 3 branny February 18, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Looks delicious, Cate.

  3. 4 katie February 18, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I love black beans! This looks really delicious!

  4. 5 Josie February 18, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Oh my, this looks really good – I’m adding this to my menu for next week!

  5. 6 Anu February 19, 2010 at 7:14 am

    this looks wonderful. I’ve been eating veggie for a while and this is right up my alley. thanks for posting.

  6. 7 Kira February 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I really need to get a Rick Bayless cookbook. And find some masa around here!

  7. 8 Nicole February 22, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Hey thanks for the inspiration! I just got a visit from my mother from the US – complete with chipotle peppers and masa in tow. Will be on the menu for next week!

  8. 9 Erin February 24, 2010 at 10:31 am

    This looks like something my husband and I would love! I’m going to have to put it on the menu soon!

  9. 10 Beth February 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Oh how I love Rick Bayless! DH and I want to take a trip to Chicago just to eat at Frontera Grill.
    I can’t wait to try this one! 2 questions, though:

    1) Can I use canned black beans? How much?
    2) Is masa the same as cornmeal?

  10. 11 Jessica @ Blog-Inspired Cooking April 24, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I love everything made with masa so I was surprised to see a recipe for masa dumplings. Where have these been all my life?! I tried them out and posted about it on my blog.

    They turned out only ok, but I don’t think it was the recipe, I think it might be my masa?


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